I went to a David Sedaris book-signing on Friday and I gave him a copy of my Washington Post magazine essay. Yes, I realize this is obnoxious, like handing Picasso a paint-by-number you did. But why not, I say? He's my literary hero and that essay is more than I ever dreamed could happen, so I'm going to show it to everyone I know - including famous authors, apparently.
So I got in line armed with a copy of the magazine and waited my turn. Even though he had laryngitis and could barely talk, he was still taking the time to chat with all his fans as he signed their books. When I got to his table, I said something like, "Thanks for signing my book, here's some reading material for you - for the plane maybe" and slapped the magazine down. To his credit, he was absolutely lovely and nice enough to humor me. He asked me how old I was and whether I was going to write for them again.Yes, they asked me to submit again, I said, "But I have no ideas."David Sedaris thought for a moment, then gestured for me to move in closer. This is it, I thought, he's going to tell me the secret to writing! I leaned in close and he whispered:
"Have you ever shit in your pants as an adult?"
"No, but I just threw up in my roommate's bed," I said brightly.
He smiled, nodded and said, " Usually, anytime an adult shits in their pants, it makes for a good story."
This whole interlude ended up making a lot more sense later after I found out that he asked everyone who got their book signed to tell him either a story about breastmilk or about pooping their pants. But even in the moment without knowing that fact, our conversation seemed enlightening. The world's a topsy-turvy place but thank goodness we can count on David Sedaris to be reliably hillarious.